Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are Mass Shootings America's Version of Suicide Bombings?

I was at my son's school on Friday while everything in Connecticut was going down. I was delivering flowers to his teachers as a thank you for the holiday. I talked with his principal, but I had no idea about what was happening out east. I am not addicted to my phone or searching for news on it, so I was clueless. Another parent was waiting for her daughter. We were both in the hallway in silence and then suddenly she said, "It's just terrible about those children in Connecticut."

She told me what happened. Then her daughter showed up and they left. I gathered Capt. J and X-man and lead them out to the car. I dropped Capt. J off and then went home. I read the news, watched Obama's comment and let X-man watch. He saw the president cry and he wanted to hug him to make him feel better. We both agreed that it was a sad, sad event. The last thing I read was a story where the idea that the shooter was rumored by family friends to have had Asperger's was brought up.

And then I went on media lockdown. I was angry that something like a medical diagnosis like that was linked, and I knew autism groups far and wide would be jumping all over how many reasons that was irresponsible journalism. I didn't want to hear people argue about how terribly we care for the mentally ill in our country or how weapons that shoot as many bullets as the guns he took into the school are unnecessary while others think they are for their Second Amendment rights. And, forgive me, I can't look at the faces of those other six and seven year olds who were slaughtered or the teachers and principals that ran into harms way to try to protect them.

I don't like to think of teachers as first responders. I don't want to hear arguments about how they should have to carry weapons to work with children.

When I do think of something like that happening at the school I returned to teach in on Monday morning, you know what I think about? I think about how many of my two year olds I could hide in a closet with and how in the world would I get them to be quiet in a lockdown situation. How would I hide their faces if we were confronted by a gunman, so they wouldn't have to see the anger in a shooter's eyes.

I think about never seeing my family again. And about all those people who won't see their children again. I get quite emotional.

I remember that areas of the world, particularly in Europe and the Middle East where these kinds of senseless killings of innocent people have been going on for 2,000 years.

Today, I read the paper for the first time since Friday and found this. It kind of summarizes how I've been thinking. In my head, I know that we are safer now than we were 30 years ago when it comes to violent homicide. I also know that as many children in Chicago are killed with more frequency than what happened in Connecticut. But the actions of those that hurt there seem bigger to me. I guess that's true ever since Jonesboro. Maybe I'm paying more attention now than I did to violence when I was a child. Either way, I don't think madness can be controlled.

What I do know is that I don't want bars on my school's windows and armed guards at the door. It's the same way I felt flying in and out of National Airport after 9/11 and seeing giant military thugs with huge guns placed there for "security." I resented it. Just like I resented driving by an anti-aircraft gun on my way to work every morning past the Pentagon. I'm angry it happened. I grieve for those lost.

I'm also pretty sure that if we added up the number of Americans murdered by mass shootings and compared it to the number of people murdered by friends and family members, the violent tendencies of the people we know would out number strangers a great deal.

I once told X-man that the odds of him getting bitten by a shark in the ocean (which he is afraid of) are smaller than the chances of him getting hit by lightning (which he's not afraid of).

I know it to be true, but why does seeing the shark fear in his face about it instantly make me worry, too?

I guess I wish math was more comforting than the power of a distressed imagination and the "what if."

Does that make any sense?

1 comment:

Debra Crabtree said...

It makes a lot of sense. A whole lot of sense. We have not had the news on at all because it happened less than two hours from us and I can't tell my son yet. I don't want him to be scared of school because, like you... I know the statistics.It hasn't stopped me from being terrified to send him away from me though to go to school. What can we do to make meaning of it? All I know is to devote ourselves to parenting empathetic, loving children by being empathetic loving moms. *hugs*